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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Caesar, voiced by Andy Serkis, appears in the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes."
Those super-sentient simians are back in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (Fox).

Though it's not a film for kids, this latest addition to a franchise based on the work of French science-fiction author Pierre Boulle (1912-1994) has enough going for it to please most adults. Grown-ups also will find the themes underlying director Matt Reeves' 3-D follow-up to the 2011 reboot "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" congruent with Christian values.

A decade after a pandemic called Simian Flu wiped out most of the human race, a band of survivors -- led by a former law enforcement official named Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) -- occupies the ruins of San Francisco. With their fuel supply running dangerously low, they send out an expedition aimed at restoring a damaged hydroelectric plant to the north of the city.

En route, however, the mission's team members -- including widowed architect Malcolm (Jason Clarke), his teen son, Alex (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and his nurse girlfriend, Ellie (Keri Russell) -- encounter, and clash with, a community of genetically evolved apes living in nearby Muir Woods.

As a potential war looms, the primates' wise chief, Caesar (Andy Serkis), works with Malcolm to prevent bloodshed.

If this peaceable duo represents the best of their respective species -- each is shown to be motivated by concern for his family -- the other end of the spectrum is embodied by Caesar's aggressive deputy Koba (Toby Kebbell) and Malcolm's irascible colleague, Carver (Kirk Acevedo). Koba was a victim of torturous lab experimentation, while Carver holds the apes responsible for the ravages of Simian Flu.

Via these positive and negative role models, Reeves blends pleas for tolerance and trust in with the considerable, though largely bloodless, combat action. While thoroughly honorable, the script's messages are delivered somewhat heavy-handedly. Still, Serkis' striking performance, together with top-notch special effects, elevates Reeves' sequel above run-of-the-mill entertainment.

The film contains frequent stylized violence, at least one use each of profanity and rough language as well as several crude and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog When we suffer, we don’t just come to understand the pain of Christ’s cross more, we come to understand the depth of God’s love for us: that he would endure such pain for us—in our place. We have a God who endured death so we would never have to do so.

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